What we’re watching and playing this week
What They Had (PG15)
In many ways, Elizabeth Chomko has to been one of the bravest young talents out there. Not only did she write a screenplay that was hugely personal to her but she also decided to bring it to life herself.
Thankfully, Chomko’s What They Had succeeds where so many directorial debuts before it have failed, not only striking a fine balance between tearjerking and rib tickling but getting the very best out of a brilliant cast at the same time.
Based quite closely on her own grandmother’s struggles, the film tells the story of Alzheimer’s sufferer Ruth (Blythe Danner), who forces her loved ones into an extremely tough decision after trying to ‘go home’ by wandering head-first into a blizzard.
Alarmed by her rapid decline, her children Bridget (Hilary Swank) and Nick (Michael Shannon) reunite in their Chicago hometown to try and persuade their dad Burt (Robert Forster) that they should put mum in a care home.
Swank truly makes the role her own and as Chomko has revealed, the two-time Oscar winner had a huge input when it came to developing the character her novice director readily admits having struggled with.
Shannon also shines, as always, and provides the best of the humourous lines that punctuate this film, giving it a far more heartwarming feeling than the subject matter might suggest. The fact her cast are on song certainly helps but Chomko should be praised for handling them so well.
In cinemas February 28
Fighting with my family (15+)
After what was probably one of Hollywood’s shortest casting calls, Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson stars (as himself) in this comedy-drama based on the life of WWE star Paige (Florence Pugh). Johnson can be brilliantly deadpan and self-effacing, and with tag team Nick Frost and Lena Headey playing aspiring wrestler Paige’s parents, Stephen Merchant’s solo directorial debut should piledrive your funny bones into submission.
In cinemas February 21
Steins; Gate Elite (PEGI 16)
Some ten years since the release of that first cult hit, Steins; Gate Elite brings what fans of the original were probably bombarding forums for: a fully animated version of the Japanese-produced visual novel.
A conspiracy involving the Large Hadron Collider is what our heroic Lab Members stumble into. Oh, how we wish we could change the past using a modified microwave.
Out on PS4, PS Vita, Nintendo Switch and PC from February 19
Those of us who have to scroll down so far down website age entries that we get an RSD would be glad if we could celebrate our 36th birthday again and again. Not Nadia Vulvokov, because almost as soon as she blows out the candles she dies, only to be reanimated and forced to live that day time after time. Natasha Lyonne stars as the suitably frustrated Nadia taking the premise of Groundhog Day to an amusingly darker level.
Available now on Netflix
This Giant Beast That Is The Global Economy
Bear with us. This Amazon Prime Original might have a massively uncatchy title but in our wonderful city of gold, we can surely relate to the pursuit of monetary wealth as actor and former White House associate Kal Penn investigates some of the more outrageous (and nefarious) means by which money flows.
Available on Amazon Prime from February 22
There were a lot of “ooh”s and “ahh”s when Anthem first showed its lengthy demo at E3 2017, and rightly so. The Javelin Exosuits players can fly around in, blasting enemies to smithereens with mini-rockets and beams of light, made audiences believe it was the Iron Man game they’ve always wanted. And the chaotic, tropical world full of danger that players could blast off into was a visual feast for the eyes. But EA, publisher of Anthem, has pulled a fast one on us at E3 before. Remember how the pay-to-win scheme of Star Wars: Battlefront 2 turned out? Mass Effect: Andromeda? Battlefield V? EA don’t have the best track record, and Anthem seems to be their last shining hope.
Not all is doom and gloom though, as it has the makings of a successful multiplayer action RPG that will continue to be played in years to come. It boasts four diverse classes for players to choose from. Defense-heavy tank players will be attracted to the Colossus, the Exosuit class that can go in guns blazing and take a lot of hits, while the quick and nimble types will zone in on the Interceptor with its speed and melee damage. The Storm class mimics all other RPG games – basically an “Area of Effect” king – while the Ranger is your all-round, jack-of-all-trades fighter. Of course, these class types aren’t anything ground-breaking, but it’s a tried and tested system that works, and letting players strategize over who should play who when working in a team of four is vital to beating a worthy foe. What we’ve taken from the early access demo, however, is that hese hulking enemies are more like bullet sponges than anything challenging. The higer your level, the higher the number that pings off the enemy when players shoot at them. That’s it.
This is where Bungie’s Destiny comes in. Although criticised for its weak gameplay mechanics, its garnered such a following just because of its background lore and simple multiplayer fun. Anthem seems like it will follow in its footsteps – a game that could have gained critical acclaim but falls back on the simplistic (yet satisfying) run, gun, loot, repeat.
What still looks like an absolute blast though is the ability to fly at break-neck speeds through a beautifully rendered setting, and sometimes that’s all you need for a Triple A game to kick off. It’s worth a buy, unless you’re already a fan of Destiny.
Available on PS4, Xbox One, PC. February 22.
The Terra Nova corporation has taken over New Providence and it’s up to yo- Oh, who cares. Play it for the bombastic action.
Far Cry: New Dawn
After that “Big Boom” in Far Cry 5, New Dawn is bringing us a freaky post-apocalyptic setting.
Naruto vs Goku, Luffy vs Ichigo – you can finally put to rest “who would win?” in this fighting game extravaganza.
Poor Artyom. What other irradiated creatures must he face in this third installment of the post-apocalyptic franchise?